Porchester Rd, Queensway, Bayswater
London W2 5HS
020 7792 2919
Added bonus: one of the few remainingTurkish baths in the country is next door. Also, places to smoke shisha pipes.
Negative: I didn’t have time to have one (Turkish bath, or shisha.)
The trains were fooffed, and it was a boiling cloudy day, so my bag (I carry enough swim stuff for an extended family) had made its mark in sweat on my back by the time I saw the proudly plain 50s font of the neon sign above the grand pillars of the Porchester Centre, a fantastic Grade II listed building. In through double doors, the kind my grandfather might have pushed open to go to work – heavy wood, a large brass handle - into the dignified architecture of the entrance. This is aged municipal, from a time when municipal might have meant conservative and upstanding, and when conservative might not have been such an insult. Tiles and dark panelling and hefty yellow stone walls with a solid air of permanence and solemnity. The motto should be: The decision to swim is not taken lightly. It’s similar to the council building I got married in (also a Westminster facility), and reeks of the serious daily work of men of old, poring over massive ledgers crammed with tiny spidery numbers.